It has been nearly two weeks since Quaker Valley High School's boys lacrosse team won the WPIAL Division II boys championship with a 13-10 victory against Indiana at Highmark Stadium, Station Square.
But to hear Quakers coach Bill Marcotte tell it, the feelings of elation and accomplishment might take a while to dissipate in the Ohio River communities that serve the district's high school based in Leetsdale.
"It's certainly difficult to wipe the smiles off faces," said Marcotte, who just completed his 10th year as the Quakers' coach. "We played as well as we needed to, and there were some nerves. But we had a great season, and Highmark Stadium was a great place to play the game."
The Quakers finished the year with an 18-0 record. The championship eased the disappointment of a 13-8 loss in the 2013 Division II championship game to Seton-LaSalle. Marcotte knew that when the team began to prepare for this season, the pieces were in place for a solid campaign.
"[After the loss to Seton-LaSalle], we promised each other that we wouldn't allow that to happen again," Marcotte said. "The guys understood they had the horses in the room, and that we needed to double down on our efforts. [The title] was a huge testament to the guys."
When Marcotte begins to assemble his team for the 2015 season, there will be some big holes to fill, most notably the one created by the absence of attack Jimmy Perkins, who scored 101 goals in his final season with the Quakers and also dished out 62 assists. Also graduating is midfielder Jake Trovato, who scored 39 goals and had 51 assists.
Perkins was the Division II player of the year in 2013 as well as this season. Marcotte said each honor was earned based on different circumstances.
"Last year, he earned it based on individual accomplishments," Marcotte said. "We told him that other teams were going to target him during his senior year, so we needed him to be a team player. We needed him to elevate the entire team and make all of them better. That's what he did.
"He gave the kids confidence that we could overcome everything. He always delivered in big games, and when the game was on the line, Jimmy was there to step it up and make it happen."
But there is the opportunity to rebuild the offense around junior midfielder Jared Vescio, who was third in team scoring with 56 goals and 27 assists.
Marcotte said the biggest threat to his team's perfect season came when the team took a trip to Virginia to play a doubleheader against New River Valley and Cave Spring on April 12. After defeating New River Valley, 16-3, Marcotte hoped his team would have enough gas to compete against Cave Spring.
"We don't have that big of a team [numbers-wise], and we were missing some key players," Marcotte recalled. "Cave Spring had a darn good team, but we made some halftime adjustments and we thought we could pour it on. We did, and we beat them, 13-1.
"That final score was not indicative of how tight the first half was, but that was the third game in a row where we poured it on in the second half. A second-half explosion was something of a recurring theme all year."
Eight seniors graduated from this team, three of them starters.
"We have big expectations for the players coming in," he said. "We look forward to those new players coming in and making an impact along with our returning players."